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Getting Started

Production Meetings

Production meetings are a time for all departments to get together and discuss problems, concerns, and plans for getting to opening night with ease. Make plans to attend this one-hour meeting once a week. It is the job of the Assistant to the Director to notify you of the day, time and location of these meetings. At the first production meeting you will receive the list of individuals who have asked to be included on your crew (if you haven’t already picked this up). Production meetings will answer such questions (or if they don’t, you should ask) as how many spotlights will be needed, when light hang and focus will be held, how many holdover slots have been scheduled.

You should be prepared to answer questions such as how many crew you will have attending Tech Dinner, what problems you have encountered when recruiting crew members, if you will need extra spot light training times (more on this later). If for some reason you can’t attend a production meeting, call the technical director and get an update after the meeting (but you really need to be there).

Calling Your Crew

Use the list of people who signed up at backstage night as a starting place for building your crew. These people came out and indicated an interest and it is only right to start your search there. After you have called these people if you still need crew, call other people that you know from previous crews and/or contact the technical director for a list of suggestions. The crew members most likely to be forgotten are those entering their second season. Make sure that you have a good mix of volunteers.

Have the following information ready when you call to recruit crew members:

Ask your recruits to give you the following information:

Once you have called all of your crew and have dates they can work, it is time for you to build your schedule.


It is your job as the Light Crew Chief to schedule your crew for the technical rehearsals and the performances (don’t forget holdovers) of the show. The light crew chief does not schedule himself or herself, but rather serves as the fill-in in case of emergency. Every crew member must work at least one of the technical rehearsals. Crew members should be scheduled based on their wishes and personal schedule, but you need to remember that the show is most important. In a perfect world, crew members should work at least one third of the performances (or a minimum of three performances).

Over scheduling your crew can lead to unhappy crew and will eventually burn them out faster. Under scheduling or having too many crew leads to inconsistent performances. Make sure that you call everyone early enough to be able to have a full crew. Put everyone’s name and their function (board or spot) on a calendar to distribute to the stage manager, assistant stage manager, each crewmember, and post in the light booth. There is an example of a calendar in the supporting documents section.

Contact Sheet

You must prepare a contact sheet of all of your crew for distribution to the stage manager, the assistant stage manager, the technical director, and all of your crew members. A copy of the contact sheet should be posted in the light booth next to the schedule. Contact sheets are used to call someone in case of a no-show on the crew, or a cancelled show, therefore, any phone number that might be useful should be included. In addition, your phone number (as the Light Crew Chief) should be included with instructions on how to contact you in case of emergency.

Training a Crew

Light Board Workshop/Orientation

If you have more than one or two new volunteers to your crew, it may be appropriate for you to have a lighting workshop or orientation early in the rehearsal process. This does not have to be a huge formal thing, simply arrange with your new people to get together one evening when it is convenient for everyone. Ask the technical director to find time in his schedule to go over the operation of the lighting board (if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself). He may suggest another person to do this if his schedule is really busy, just make sure that all of the information you want covered is included. Doing this will save countless hours of frustration during tech week when everyone is tired and doesn’t want to wait on rudimentary training. Make sure that your new recruits can:

Crew Training During Tech Week

It is your responsibility to be at all technical rehearsals. You should be sitting with your newest recruit and making sure that he or she feels comfortable and is executing the cues well. You should stay with this person as long as they need help and assistance, even if this means sitting with them through every show. Ask the lighting designer at the end of each technical rehearsal if you need to help with refocusing lights. This should take less than 20 minutes if people stay to help.

Spotlight Training

The biggest fallacy in the world is that spotlight is the easiest job. Spotlights operated incorrectly are the most obvious error to an audience. To prevent this, spotlight operators need to be trained. (Some spotlight operators who think they are trained also need to be trained.) Fewer spotlight operators are preferable in order to allow for more consistency in the show. Spotlight crew pairs should be scheduled together as much as possible. This removes one more change and gives a smoother show.

Training cannot truly take place during tech week when there are so many other things going on and no one has time to work with trainees. Contact your stage manager and find out when would be appropriate times for you to have people come in to work on their spotlighting skills. Usually the three weeks before tech week have a great deal of time available when spotlighting would not be distracting to the actors (run throughs are a great time). Have your trainees plan to spotlight for the whole evening with you giving them instructions on what to do.

The trainees are not finished until they can:

Trainees should also understand that operating a spotlight requires:

All of these tasks take time to learn, make sure that you have given your crew the time so that they perform at their best and they feel good about their performance. If your trainees cannot perform these duties during a rehearsal, you should not schedule them for a performance. They need more training time. If you don’t feel comfortable doing the training yourself, ask the technical director for help in identifying someone who can help. This training is required if you are getting a crew ready for an amphitheater show.

Important Dates

Crew Photo Call

This photo call only happens for the main stage to provide photographs of the cast and crew for the program. It is usually held on a Tuesday evening two weeks before opening night for about an hour. Encourage all of your crew to come and participate.

Crew Watch Night

This run through is just another rehearsal, except that all of the crews are invited to come and watch the performance. It is usually held on the Thursday before Tech Saturday. It allows crews who will not be in a position to see the production from the house vantage to see it and to see how their crew fits into the “grand scheme of things”. Your crew members should be encouraged to attend this. It is another good time to have your spotlight people practice.

Program Information

You will be asked to supply the stage manager with a complete listing of your crew for the program. This listing is usually due three weeks before opening night. It is most important that you include everyone who has worked on your crew (include Light Hang and Focus). The program listing is used at the end of the season to determine who is recognized at the Annual Meeting. You don’t want to be the reason someone’s name was omitted from recognition. Make sure that your handwriting is clear and that you have spelled all names correctly.

Light Hang

Light hang is when the lighting instruments are actually hung on the pipes (electrics) according to the lighting designer’s light plot. All of your crew should attend light hang. The informality of Light Hang allows you to get to know new volunteers, or new-to-you volunteers. The technical director will determine when this will happen, though it is generally held on a Friday evening three weeks before opening night. If you aren’t given a schedule at the first production meeting, ask! There are tasks for everyone from sorting gels, to lugging instruments from one end of the theater to another.

On Main Stage we usually can fly the electrics in to hang the lights above the stage. However, someone has to go up in the “cozy” (cramped and dusty) Front of House (FOH) to hang lights there. In the Gaddy Goodwin we cannot fly the grid in, so we have to work with ladders and the Genie (height adjustable work platform). Although only one person at a time can be in the genie lift to actually hang the lights, there are two other ladders that can reach the grid and any lights that are to be located on the perimeter of the gallery can easly be reached with a 6-8 foot step ladder. This does not minimize the need to have people to set lights out, sort gels and put them in frames, to push around the genie lift, to hold ladders, or to put away unused instruments.

Light Hang is also an excellent time to introduce crew members to the different types of lighting instruments, how to properly hang and cable them, and how we control them.

Light Focus

Only a few people are needed at Light Focus. You will need someone to run the light board, someone to stand on the stage as a focus point, and one or two people to manipulate the lights. The point of Light Focus is to focus the light of all the instruments into the appropriate location on the stage so the lighting designer can work. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a new volunteer working the board. This may break the barrier between the new volunteer feeling comfortable with the board and simply blindly operating the board. Light Focus is generally held the day after Light Hang (or the Saturday one week following Light Hang). Check with the technical director about exact times.


This is everyone’s responsibility. Please encourage your entire crew to be there. The first responsibility that the light crew has at strike is to clean up their area and return all unused equipment to the appropriate location. Old cue sheets, schedules, contact sheets, soda cans, and newspapers should be thrown away. The floor should be swept or vacuumed since cleaning crews do not have access to light booths. Trash containers should be emptied. Headsets should be put away in their appropriate storage area Onstage lighting equipment should be taken down so it is not damaged as walls come down.. Any equipment that requires repairs should be reported to the Assistant Stage Manager (ASM). The ASM has a maintenance request form that can be submitted to get the equipment repaired. Strike usually lasts about two hours. There is usually a strike dinner (or snack) after strike that is a final celebration of the show.

Tech Saturday

Tech Saturday is the Saturday before opening night, and is the first official technical rehearsal. “Dry” tech occurs in the morning and does not include actors. It is a cue-to-cue progression through the show to allow lights, sound, and running crew to practice their cues. “Wet” tech occurs in the afternoon and does include actors. It is still a rehearsal for the technical crew first and you should expect starts and stops. The stage manager will re-run cues until they are executed correctly, or until the designer is satisfied.

Usually the lighting designer will run the light board during Dry Tech, sometimes Wet Tech as well. Ideally, these rehearsals will be the last time the lighting designer has to be “hands-on” on the light board. Although there is limited need for the crew to be there, they should come. There’s often tasks that they can help with, they’ll get a flavor for how the show will work, they’ll get to know each other and the cast, and they’ll be there for Tech Dinner. By all means, make sure you are there in case you are needed.

This is a long day for everyone and it ends with Tech Dinner. Tech Dinner is a potluck dinner supplied by the cast to welcome the crew. Your crew is invited to this meal. Occasionally the cast is small and Crew Chiefs need to help out with the potluck food. You would be asked in advance by the Assistant to the Director to supply food if it is needed.

Preparing for the show

Pre-show Checklist

You should prepare a checklist for your light board operator to use before each show. This should cover the procedures to lock out the work lights and control the house lights. It should include the procedures for completing the individual light check. The light checklist should also include a channel by channel description of what should light up with each channel, what kind of light it is, what type of lamp it uses, and where it is focused. Post the checklist where it can be seen easily but not lost. A suggested format is in the supporting documents section.

Fire Drill Procedures

You should go over with your crew the procedure to follow in case of fire drill (or the real thing). Since this is not currently posted in a formal, permanent fashion it remains part of your responsibility. When a fire drill is called the light board operator is to immediately turn on house lights (and work lights on Gaddy Goodwin) and turns off the light board, thereby cutting power to instruments onstage, then exit the booth. Spotlight operators should turn off their spotlights and exit the booth. All crew members are to assemble in the back parking lot, or the Rose Garden for Main Stage and in front of the building for Gaddy Goodwin Theatre. When the all clear is given, the crew re-enters the building and goes through the pre-show checklist to start up lights again.

Headset Responses

When your crew is on headset there are several responses that you should go over with them so they are ready for a performance.

“Warning Cue 20” or “Warning Light Cue 20” indicates that the light crew should be aware that light cue 20 is coming up next and that it will be executed within the next minute. The proper response is “Light board warned” or “Spot A warned”. If the stage manager does not hear a response he or she will ask something along the lines of “Spot A are you there? Did you hear the warning?”.

“Standby Cue 20” or “Standby Light Cue 20” indicates that the light crew should be ready to execute this cue within the next 30 seconds. The proper response is “Light board standing by” or “Spot A standing by”. There is no chatter during a standby.

“Cue 20 Go” or “Light Cue 20 Go” indicates that the cue is to be executed right then. If you don’t hear the word GO you don’t do anything. Check with the stage manager at the beginning of the show and ask if he or she will be expecting a response to “go”. Usually a response is not necessary except on very long cues (5 minute fades). If a response is asked for, the correct response is “Cue 20 complete”.

Cue Writing

Cue sheets are not generally used for the light board anymore. They are used for Spotlights. Cue sheets are the method of explaining to an operator what is supposed to happen during a cue. Just because it is clear to you, does not mean it will be clear to the operator. You must make many changes to your cue sheets to make sure that the instructions are clear to the people who operate the spotlights. Cue sheets should be prepared with 48 point type (see example) so that it can be seen easily and read rapidly. They should not be prepared in pencil or scribbled on the back of a pad of paper. If they are handwritten they must be clearly written in large print with black ink.

Cue sheets should include the cue number, gel color (Pink), size (head only), where the spot will pick up the actor (at the bookcase), and a short description of what the cue does (up on Annie follow off SR, fade out on exit). There is a template for writing cue sheets in the supporting documents section. Post your cue sheets so they can be seen without having to touch them during the show.


It is important to have a written evaluation of the show from your standpoint as well as from the crew that you assembled. There is a example of a format to use when submitting your evaluation to the Light Crew Coordinator. You are also encouraged to solicit written evaluations from your light crew to determine how we can improve their experience as well. These evaluations can be submitted to the technical director after you have had a chance to look them over. A sample format is given in the supporting documents section or you may design your own. In any evaluation that you use or design it should be made very clear that individual names should not be used. You are asked to complete a Show End Report (located in supporting documents) to be submitted to the technical director. This report will help us to track new, current, and returning volunteers as well as help us improve the system in general.

Light Check

The light check is the first thing that is done upon entering the theater. It must be done one hour before the curtain time in order to be able to fix any problems. The point of a light check before every show is to make sure that all lighting instruments are working and have not “fallen” out of focus. Every lighting designer has a slightly different way that he or she wants the light check done. Ask the designer their preference and use that method. If you find a instrument has burned out select the correct lamp as indicated on the Lighting checklist and change the lamp ( if you have been trained to do so), or if the technical director is available have him change the lamp before the show, otherwise make a note of it with the Assistant Stage Manager (who has the maintenance request forms) for it to be fixed before the next show. If an instrument has fallen out of focus, indicate this problem on the maintenance request as well.

General Light Board Information

The electronic light board is not as daunting if you understand some of the basics. Look in the supporting documents section for a schematic of the screen display and the keyboard display. The following is a glossary of terms and explanations that will make working with the electronic light board easier to understand.

Display Modes

Stage Mode: Controls live channels, used by designer to adjust instruments to a specific look in order to save as a cue.

Blind Mode: Allows the designer to work on cues without changing the current live stage lights.

Fader Mode: Allows live adjustments to channels that are in one fader pair (C & D) while another cue is running in the other fader pair (A & B).

Channel Modes

Captured Channels: Channels you have selected and are live on stage. They remain live until you press RELEASE to release them. Captured channels override all other channel settings. You can capture channels in Stage or Fader Mode only. Captured channels will be displayed in red (or yellow if you have also selected them).

Selected Channels: Channels that you have immediate keyboard control over. You can modify selected channels with Full, At, +, -, or the fader wheel on the keyboard. You can select channels in all modes, and they will be displayed in yellow.

Recorded Channels: Channel levels that have been recorded in a cue or submaster. In live modes (Stage, Fader)the recorded levels appear on the screen only when they are active. They are displayed in blue. In Blind Mode, recorded channels may be ‘moving’ or ‘tracked’.

Moving channels: Channel levels that change from one cue to the next.(Blue) Tracked channels: Channels levels that are unchanged from one cue to the next. (Green)

Record Functions

Record: Saves all channels as they appear on the screen in the cue or submaster you specify. Levels are recorded in only the cue you specify.

Track: Allows you to build a cue from the previous cue. Tracked channels are channels that do not change from one cue to the next. A track often runs through several cues.

Creating a Cue (Stage Mode)

Creating a Cue (Blind Mode)

Back Key; The back key goes back to the cue prior to the current cue. It only works with the A & B faders, regardless of which faders you are using.

Go to a Different Cue: To go to any cue regardless of the order: Press CUE, enter the numeric cue number, Press GO.

Clearing Fader Pairs: To clear a cue from the fader pairs ( A & B) press the CLEAR key above the pair. This will clear the cue immediately.

To Control a Fade Manually: In the event that you need to control the next cue manually (example: there is a problem on the stage and the stage manager wants to slow down or speed up the next cue). Set the faders at 0 (zero) before pressing Go to have manual control of the entire cue. Manually push the faders to 10 at the rate that the stage manager wants.

Blackout: Forces all channels to zero immediately. To restore channel settings press BLACK OUT again.

Flash: Pushes selected channels to full when pressed. Allows you to check functioning of light fixture or location of fixture. Channel remains at flash level as long as you press the key.

Grand Master: Controls all of the channels and overrides all other controls. Grand Master must be at full to run the show.

Linked Cues: Cues that are electronically tied together so that the second cue plays automatically. Linked cues will be displayed on the monitor under Link.

Power: The power switch is key operated. Turn the key to the on position to run the board.


Everyone is going to make a mistake at some point during a show. The mark of a good techie is the ability to recover quickly and with as little effort as possible. It is important that you remember this and that you instill this thought in your crew. This sentiment does not excuse careless behavior or inattention to detail, it does excuse honest mistakes.

There are several things that happen frequently that you need to discuss with your crew, plan for, and practice recovering from:

Notes from the Technical Director

Key message

Arrange a time with your Technical Director (TD) to train your crew in how to change a lamp and refocus the light. If there is any part of the light board operation that you do not feel comfortable with you should ask the TD to conduct a Light Board Essentials and Quick Fixes evening. The best time for this would be during Light Hang or Focus. If this is not convenient for the TD insist that another time be scheduled. Your primary responsibility is to provide a trained lighting crew.


If a channel was brought up during light check and never released afterwards the Channel will be locked at that level or zero. This will prevent that channel from changing. You will know this is happening when the channel LEVEL remains Red on the Mainstage Light Board (EXPRESS 250) and Red or Yellow on Gaddy-Goodwin? stage Light Board (IMPRESSION).


Both Light boards have an A/B Fader and a C/D Fader. First of all, both faders should be up so both faders can show a cue. Secondly, only one set of faders (usually A/B) should be used consistently unless otherwise instructed by the lighting designer.

You can tell which faders have a cue loaded onto them by the two virtually identical windows in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. One window says A/B Fader and one says C/D Fader These windows tell you which Cue is running, or has run. These windows indicate a percentage that changes until the cue is 100% complete.

If the A/B faders are being used while you are in Cue 10 and you accidentally press the Go button for the C/D Faders for cue 11 the cue will still operate and come up on-stage. However, nothing that was suppose to go down to a lower level in cue 10 will have changed. Any levels that got should have gotten brighter will still do so because highest always wins.

You now have a cue in each set of faders. To fix this, you want to load the cue that is in the C/D Fader into the A/B Fader by pressing the Cue button, followed by the cue number (in this case 11), followed by the time button, and a count of 20 seconds, then GO on the A/B Fader side. The reason for the slow fade is to make a less obvious change on-stage. This slow fade will bring up Cue 11 in the A/B Faders so that now you have Cue 11 in both A/B and C/D. Now press the Clear button above the C/D faders only. This will clear the C/D faders and you are back to normal.

If you do not have time for this, wait until the next cue and press Go on the correct faders (in this case A/B). At the same time, take hold of the C/D Fader sliders and bring them down on the same count as the time indicated on the next cue that you have pressed into the A/B Fader GO button. Please note that the A/B and C/D faders are inactive once the cue is 100% complete.

Stage Mode

If you see the normal screen but no levels change on the screen when you press GO check to see that you are in Stage mode. If you are in another mode, press STAGE. If you were in Blind the cues have engaged but since you were in the wrong screen you could not see it happen on the screen.

Taking Manual

You can override the computerized fade by pressing the Hold Button and stopping the cue in action. To restart press Go again. Or you can take hold of the fader sliders that you are working with (usually A/B) and bringing them down until they match the level of the lighted red LED’s on the Impression Board or until the monitor says manual in the fader window on the Expression 250. Once they meet, you are in manual and it is up to you to finish the fade by bringing the faders back up.

Caution, be careful that you do not bring the A or C fader down if no levels were meant to come down or you will cause a fade in those Channels that were not supposed to change. You can check this before you go into your cue by going into BLIND and pressing the + or – sign to go forward and back and look for Channels that don’t change and find how many there are. To return to the right cue press STAGE and then RELEASE to fix any tracking problems that have occurred.

The Faders are inactive once the cue is complete.

Release Button

If for some reason you think that the cue is not operating properly or the channels stay highlighted in the wrong color or the stupid Lighting Designer has re-recorded several cues without clearing his work properly press the RELEASE button twice. If you were wrong, and there was nothing wrong to begin with then nothing will happen. But, if you were right you more than likely fixed it. This does not fix being in the wrong cue or wrong faders.

You Jumped A Cue

First ascertain that you really did jump a cue by looking at the number of the cue operating in the lower left-hand corner. If you did jump a cue either press BACK if you were in A/B or press the Cue button followed by the correct cue # followed by Time and a fade time and then Go on either A/B or C/D in which ever fader you already were.

Why A/B fader over C/D

On the Impression Board when you press the BACK button on the Light Board it usually defaults to the A/B fader. So, if you were in C/D only and Press BACK it is going to go back a cue but switch to the A/B fader in the process. You now have two sets of faders operating at the same time, which is bad thing. Note: use of the C/D faders may happen when you want a fire cue or a chase or have a base cue that never goes away. In those instances, you would put that cue in C/D and operate the rest of the show in A/B Fader.

Differences in the two Light Boards

While both boards are made by the same company and generally use the same basic language to operate there are a few differences: